Dear Readers, The letter below was dated 1294 and sent to us anonymously. We are investigating the authenticity of the letter as I write this week’s column. However, publishing this epistle quickly was an opportunity not to be missed, since the letter contains information that will shake the foundations of one of England’s oldest and most noble family’s.
Dear Friend, I’ve written to you before of the young girl who some years past came to the abbey injured, alone, and unable to speak. We treated her as well as possible, helping her to learn skills that would prove useful should the time ever come when she might need to leave the abbey.
Two days past, she recovered her speech. I was called immediately. The girl, she is a young lady now, confided in me the secret of her identity. ‘Tis a secret which could get her killed, because it would destroy the current Earl of Hawksedge and make a scandal of the title and his family.
I chose to keep this information secret from the Earl despite his visit to witness the miracle of the young lady’s regained speech. The Earl would not tolerate any threat to his title, and I therefore feared for her life. Yet this young woman has done no wrong. Indeed much wrong has been done to her. I helped her to flee from the abbey, to find a home safe from discovery, and the means to earn a living.
But now I hear that the Earl has been found dead in a locked room, and the young woman, we’ll call her Larkin, was discovered wandering the keep shortly before the earl’s death was discovered.
Fortunately the man who found Larkin, Sir Talon Du Quereste, was once a herald for King Edward I, and is therefore completely trustworthy. He will discover the truth of the Earl’s death and whether or not poor Larkin was involved. There is more to the story, my dearest friend. But I dare not put the tale on ink and paper when Larkin’s life stands in the balance. ‘Twould be too easy for my words to be mis-interpreted. Then justice would never be done. I will write again when I can.
With love and affection,
Teresa Marie Clement, Abbess
Our Lady of Sorrows Abbey, Northumbria